One of the cool things about writing this column is that I get a chance to meet people from all walks of life. Last year, when Pest Management Professional Editor-in-Chief Heather Gooch and I were brainstorming about the shape of “Start-Up Stories,” I wanted to pick a wide sample of Americana. This month, we are going to talk with 13-year pest veteran Carlos Lugo.
Carlos owns Resolve Pest Management in Bayville, N.J. After a successful 10-year-stint at a local pest control firm, he started his company at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I took a big gamble, leaving a high-paying job,” he admits. Not only that, he and his wife, Sylvia, had four youngsters in the home. But the pandemic didn’t deter him. In fact, starting in March 2020 might have helped the young entrepreneur, as he notes, “Many of my first customers were from New York and Philadelphia, trying to get away from the crowds.” Because these people were working from home, Carlos says, they noticed pest issues and needed service.
He battled through 2020 and finished 2021 with $70,171. In 2022, he managed $141,000 in sales. He’s projecting to service between $180,000 to $200,000 this year. He does a little bit of commercial work, but most of his clients are residential and need termite, wildlife, bed bug and cockroach services.
Carlos performs bi-monthly services and hopes to hire his first technician before the end of the year. His three-year goal is to have four technicians, and his five-year goal is to own a boat and maybe add another location a little farther south.
What makes Carlos confident that he will grow his company? “My strength is that I am personable,” he says. “I really like my customers and I get a personal connection with many of them.”
For example, while I was interviewing him for this article, a grateful client called him to let him know he successfully caught her squirrel. He and I finished the interview early so he could race to help his customer.
Carlos also has been known to help his elderly clients with chores around their homes, which endears him to them. He even chose the company name, Resolve, because he likes solving client’s problems vs. just treating the symptoms.
Starting a business from scratch has been challenging. Carlos told me his parents, Carlos and Maggie, owned an ice cream parlor for a short period but otherwise, he didn’t really have anyone to lean on and ask questions about business. Carlos has been very receptive to many of my ideas to help him grow. We worked on improving his termite renewals to increase his recurring revenue, and he’s been handing out business cards to real estate offices and home inspectors. Both groups should be able to help him get his foot in the door at residential clients. He also joined two networking groups and will soon be a trustee for one of them.
Carlos and Sylvia are expecting another child in August. The new baby will join C.J. (11), Olivia (9), Arianna (8), and Sammy (4). The love he has for his family pushes Carlos to always improve as a business owner, he says, adding, “I had my first child at 20. That shaped me to be the man I am today. I would never let my family down.”
S.W.O.T. Analysis: Resolve Pest Management
- Same-day service
- Low overhead
- Fully equipped with proper tools
- Lack of capital
- Lack of marketing experience
- Poor website presence
- Lack of reputation
- Not maximizing recurring revenue
- Construction of large apartment complexes near his business
- Creating an SEO presence
- Local marketing available (banners at fields and schools)
- Sleeker, more professional website to draw in clients
- Working with property managers on larger estates
- Current economy and inflation
- Losing termite jobs to larger companies that offer termite damage remediation
- Competitors have deeper pockets
- Rising product costs